Sir Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, is an English musician and songwriter best known for being the drummer of the legendary band The Beatles. He is highly regarded for his distinctive drumming skills that valued emotion over technical achievement, and was appointed as a knight in 2018 due to his achievements in music. In honor of his 81st birthday today, here are five of our favorite Ringo Starr quotes and performances
"My make-up is emotional. I'm an emotional human being. I'm very sensitive and it took me till I was forty-eight to realize that was the problem!"
Starr wrote in his book, Postcards for the Boys, featuring various postcards of members of The Beatles in the 60s, along with Starr's commentary.
"I play for the joy of playing. My dream was to play drums, which I do. And to play with good players, and then play with great players, which I still am."
Starr said in an interview with Conan O'Brien when asked his opinion on how many bands achieve their fame in modern times.
"I can't read [music] to this day. I can read books though."
Starr joked in a 1978 interview on the Mike Douglas show when inquired about his formal training.
"I just love to play. And most of the people who come on the tour love to play. And it's so great because we support each other."
Starr said in an interview with the Hard Rock Cafe when asked how he maintains his "fire" with music.
"My dream's still unfolding now. That's what's incredible."
Starr explained in a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone at home during quarantine, when discussing how his love of drumming emerged.
Born in Liverpool, Starr began playing drums as a child by hitting wooden mallets against furniture, and hasn't parted with the instrument since. He started out in a band called Roy Storm and the Hurricanes before being discovered by Brian Epstein. In 1962, he recorded The Beatles' first single, 'Love Me Do', and the rest is history.
5. 'Ticket to Ride'
One of the band's earlier hits and regarded as being ahead of its time, the drums are notable for being heavier, darker, and more intense than what was commonly heard in the 60s. The drums are also unique as they are slightly behind the beat while still sounding syncopated, and shift midway through the song for a satisfying build.
4. 'A Day In The Life'
This psychedelic track contains an innovative combination of snare and cymbals. Lennon's emotional lyrics and vocals are emphasized with Starr's echoing and rhythmic licks. The drums gradually build throughout the song, giving it the perfect last closing measures.
This "tom tom" heavy song sounds a lot easier to play than it actually is. In the beginning, the pattern is simple and classic, the perfect storytelling accompaniment to Harrison's mellow vocals. However, when the bridge kicks in, the drums become more intricate, suiting the message of love for the song.
2. 'Come Together'
During the Beatles' later years, Starr began to experiment with lower and more muted drumming to compliment the band's evolving sound. He is also known for "playing with his shoulder", a distinctive feature that influenced many rock and roll drummers to this date. Come Together is highly recognizable thanks to Starr's signature triplet fill.
Although a lesser known Beatles song, it is commonly regarded by music critics, and Starr himself, as his finest work on the drums. A B-side to the classic Paperback Writer, Rain contains a very busy drum-line that keeps listeners on their toes. "I think it was the first time I used this trick of starting a break by hitting the hi-hat first instead of going directly to a drum off the hi-hat" Starr said.
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